- homepage link Editor's Picks

Shows Worth Seeing:

By Eugene Ionesco
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn
Box office: (718) 636-4100

Ionesco writes for what seems to me an essentially adolescent sensibility. Each of his plays introduces one central absurdity—proliferating chairs, proliferating rhinoceroses, a teacher who kills his students, a tenant who crams his apartment with furniture—and then worries it to death with cyclical repetition. There is never really surprise after the first absurd tingle, only the tedium of watching an ineluctable accumulation or depletion process work itself out. You need to be thirteen years old for such matters to sustain you for two hours. To my mind, then, the best Ionesco productions are those that supplement his texts with theatrical business that supplies the missing surprise and suspense. This is the strength of Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota’s version of Rhinoceros, now visiting BAM from the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris. Demarcy-Mota replaces the quasi-realistic café location of the first scene, for instance, with a vaguely defined open space filled with plastic chairs and backed with an ambiguous architectural frame. Here the cast of thirteen mills about, masses like an expressionist chorus, and moves in fascinating choreographed unison when the first rhinoceros is heard bellowing. Later the government office scene becomes a hilariously chaotic spectacle of gymnastic tumbling as the space (designed by Yves Collet) rises on two sides like a pair of diabolical drawbridges when the beasts begin to attack the place. These are just the sort of physical tricks that are needed to pull the attention through the longueurs of protagonist Berenger’s haplessly sentimental monologues. Even the fine actor who plays him, Serge Maggiani, seems to agree, evidently buoyed by the support of the physical shenanigans swirling round him.



©2003-10 All rights reserved. Do not duplicate or distribute in any form without express permission. Hunter Department of Theater . 695 Park Avenue . New York, NY 10065 .